Culture + Style

They Filmed That Here: Where to be a Movie Buff in New Orleans

Lafayette Cemetery, where Ashley Judd filmed “Double Jeopardy.” (Photo: Jorg Hackeman/Shutterstock.com)

Louisiana is known as “Hollywood South,” mostly because New Orleans attracts filmmakers with its trademark gorgeous oak tree-lined mansions, Old World European patinas, and spooky Voodoo above-ground cemeteries that easily transport viewers to other worlds. Get in on the act and visit the locations featured in these six notable films.

  1. “12 Years a Slave.” The Best Picture Oscar-winning drama features New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana in scenes that are set both in and out of the state. The critical scene in which Solomon Northup is duped at a Washington D.C. restaurant was actually filmed at The Columns Hotel, a gorgeous St. Charles Avenue inn and bar with a sprawling front patio. Other scenes were filmed at Louisiana plantations including Destrehan and Magnolia, that are open to the public.
  2. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”Take a stroll through the Garden District, a popular neighborhood for locals and tourists alike to scope out the massive homes (Sandra Bullock owns one), and take a look at the Nolan family house. The house, where Brad Pitt strangely grew younger and younger, is so central to the 2009 film that it almost functions as a character itself.
  3. “Easy Rider.” This 1969 road movie follows hippies en route to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. It’s one of the films that takes advantage of the city’s unique above-ground cemeteries. Dennis Hopper, the director, shot a famous freak-out sequence in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest still-operating cemetery in New Orleans. Hopper’s scene caused the Archdiocese of New Orleans to ban any subsequent filming in the cemetery save for documentaries and educational films.
  4. “Double Jeopardy.” This Ashley Judd film is notable for featuring another cemetery in a terrifying scene at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (also located in the Garden District). The scene features Judd being knocked unconscious and locked in a casket while a funeral band plays in the background — a true New Orleans nightmare.
  5. “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.Nicolas Cage has an interesting, turbulent personal history with New Orleans. Regardless, he turns in a good performance in this 2009 crime drama, a re-imagining of the 1992 film noir “Bad Lieutenant.” Originally meant to be set in New York, director Werner Herzog, instead, decided to shoot in New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina.
  6. “21 Jump Street” and “22 Jump Street.” The original ’80s TV series was set in a generic, Pacific Northwest town, so the distinctive New Orleans city feel was subdued for the movies. But if you know where to look, you can spot still New Orleans locations in the films. The chapel at the movie’s titular address is the historic St. James AME Church in Mid-City. In the sequel it’s St. Maurice Catholic Church in New Orleans’ Holy Cross neighborhood. Fictional MC State was shot at Tulane and Loyola, and there are also scenes in City Park, the Port of New Orleans, and the city’s Central Business District. Channing Tatum must have enjoyed filming in New Orleans because he opened a bar, Saints & Sinners, in 2012.